Catalina Marketing, known for distributing its coupon offers bundled with register receipts at grocery and other store checkout counters, has launched a new Web site, www.CouponNetwork.com, which will let users select and print off online coupons on the same CPG goods.
The newly-launched Web site constitutes a scalable solution to the problem of declining newspaper readership and the corresponding erosion of free-standing inserts (FSIs) as a channel for distributing CPG offers, says Susan Gear, Catalina’s group vice president for digital.
St. Petersburg FL-based Catalina will still continue to offer register-tape rebates at the point of sale. But the privately held firm says it saw an opportunity to use shoppers’ growing interest in online coupons to drive deeper engagement with the brands offering the rebates.
“An under-reported benefit of online coupons is that they can incent consumers to have a deeper equity experience with the brand,” says Gear. “We’ve designed the site so brands can really talk to consumers about their product attributes, including exciting new features, flavors and varieties. And as something of a latecomer to the field [of printable online coupons], we’ve tried to use our position to think through not just how to distribute coupons but how to really help marketers build relationships with consumers.”
The new Web site offers pages of deals that users can sort by newest, highest value or closest expiration date. A Coupon Cart counter shows the total number of coupons listed and the total potential savings. If they choose to register at the site, users can store their favorite merchant locations to see more offers tailored to that seller in their location.
In addition to associating product shots and brief descriptions with each coupon offered, the CouponNetwork.com site also includes a “More” link where shoppers can see a more detailed description of the product on offer. In most cases, that landing page also can also be expanded by product category or daypart to help with comparison shopping.
“That’s unique to us [among online coupon sites], and it gives us the flexibility to offer our participating brands more space to engage with consumers,” Gear says. “Brands can show more than just a product shot. Some of our brands might feature a recipe, or ideas for creative uses.”
For example, a shopper who clicks to learn more about a $1 rebate on Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes can then opt to see all six available breakfast-related offers currently on the site, or all three offers for breakfast cereals.
Catalina is also doing search marketing against those individual product pages, buying the branded search terms as keywords for every offer on the site and using them to serve pay-per-click ads that let visitors click through directly to the specific CouponNetwork product page they expect to see.
Both the CouponNetwork home page and product pages also include a large scrolling banner header in which brands can draw attention to the rebates they offer below. Top navigation at the site also includes a tab for “Featured Brands” that lead visitors quickly to a page containing all the offers from a single brand. That brand page can also carry a banner ad for the brand.
Web site users can print off coupons without registering, but all users first need to download a coupon print activator, plug-in software designed to make online coupon distribution secure for retailers and manufacturers and to control the number of coupons printed.
While Catalina’s printable offering joins a whole host of Web sites where shoppers can download coupons, the site has an edge in being able to offer registered user a tie-in to its exclusive YourBucks rewards program. Unlike standard retail or manufacturer coupons, YourBucks rewards are not tied to a particular product and can be used to purchase anything at participating retailers.
In-store, shoppers earn YourBucks by buying products that are participating in the YourBucks rewards program at the moment of purchase. The rewards are printed out in-store and can be redeemed during a user’s next marketing trip. YourBucks rewards are subsidized by the participating retailers, who like the program, Gear says, because they don’t incur costs for the rewards until the consumer has used the coupon and made a qualifying purchase.
But registered visitors to the CouponNetwork.com site can search specifically for products running promotions under the YourBucks rewards program and can download the related offers, apply the rebates, and get a printed tally of their current YourBucks rewards total. They can then use those YourBucks points the next time they walk into a participating retailer and make a purchase.
Tracking YourBucks accounts is a prime incentive for visitors to register at CouponNetwork.com, says Gear. Once they do that, they can also opt in to receive email or text-message notifications about YourBucks offers at the supermarket partners of their choice, including A&P, Shoprite, Waldbaums and SuperFresh.
While the YourBucks program pre-dated the launch of CouponNetwork.com, Catalina sees the new Web site as a valuable opportunity to give more prominence to the rewards system. “Consumers like it because it’s easy to use, and retailers like it because it drives incremental trips to their stores,” Gear says. “We like it because it’s exclusive to us and uses the printers we already have installed in stores. So you’ll see us adding more and more YourBucks offer content to our Web site over the next year.”
Catalina’s expansion into online distribution comes as printable digital coupons are gaining mindshare among Americans of all ages. A recent survey by marketing research firm Morpace found that two-thirds of U.S. consumers have used online coupons to make a purchase.
While Web coupons still make up a tiny sliver of total coupon distribution—about 1%, according to a report from Kantar Media—they over-index in terms of redemption, now making up 10% to 15% of all coupons cashed in.